Sadiq Khan Joins Air Pollution Battle

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Today City Hall announced that Sadiq Khan, the newly appointed Mayor of London, will be a part of the renewed action against DEFRA. ClientEarth was granted permission to take the Government back to court last month because they failed to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in the UK. The London Mayor praised environmental lawyers for holding the UK Government to account for their actions.

The move was welcomed by ClientEarth’s Chief Executive James Thornton who said: “We’re pleased that the new Mayor considers our legal challenge important in holding the UK government to account.

“Sadiq Khan’s announcement that he will be directly involved in the case is a good sign that he is committed to dealing with London’s air pollution crisis. This is an excellent opportunity for him to show leadership by setting out what action he will take and what support he will need from central government in order to achieve legal limits in London.”

In a statement issued to journalists a spokesman for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor was elected on a mandate to clean up London’s air. ClientEarth’s legal challenges are holding the Government to account on air pollution and as the Mayor of the biggest city in the country, Sadiq Khan very much considers himself an interested party in the judicial review. He will be setting out how and when he intends to take action on air pollution in the coming weeks.”

Last month ClientEarth was told it could take the UK government back to court over its failure to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.

ClientEarth lodged papers at the High Court naming the UK Environment Secretary Liz Truss as defendant. Papers were also served on the Mayor of London, Scottish and Welsh ministers and the Department for Transport as interested parties in the case. DfT and the Welsh administration have decided to stick by Defra’s defence whilst the Scottish Government has declined to take part.

ClientEarth believes the government is in breach of its legal duty to produce new air quality plans to bring air pollution down to legal levels in the “shortest possible time”, despite being ordered to do so by the UK Supreme Court.

The plans, released on 17 December last year, wouldn’t bring the UK within legal air pollution limits until 2025. The original, legally binding deadline passed in 2010.

ClientEarth has asked judges to strike down those plans, order new ones and intervene to make sure the government acts. The first hearing will take place on a date yet to be set by the court.